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Developing Women's Leadership

By Lindsay Field Penticuff

As seen in Diversity in Action
September/October 2018


Patricia Malone, Executive Director, Center for Corporate Education at Stony Brook University

Pat Malone


  Patricia Malone, Executive Director, Center for Corporate Education at Stony Brook UniversityTwenty-six women from across the Long Island, New York region participated in the first-ever cohort hosted for the Stony Brook University Women in STEM Leadership Program this past spring.

The students and staff at Stony Brook University in New York are familiar with what is means to have a diverse and inclusive campus. Their school president, Samuel L. Stanley, is one of only two U.S. college leaders serving on the board for the United Nations' global initiative HeForShe, a campaign that advocates for the advancement of gender equality.To that end, in 2018 – after two years of planning - the Long Island university's Center for Corporate Education (CCE) launched its Women in STEM Leadership Program, lead by Patricia Malone, executive director of the CCE.

"We have a very strong commitment to inclusiveness and recently hired a terrific chief diversity officer who I'm working with to see if we can bring in their programs and topics to our Women in STEM Leadership Program," Malone says. "We are delighted that we are integrating the strength and commitment from this university on diversity and inclusion within the context of this new Women in STEM Leadership Program - a melting pot of the best elements to move the needle forward for women and diverse populations in STEM."

Malone was hired nearly three decades ago to help launch the Stony Brook CCE, which now serves close to 1,000 individuals engaged in training annually and works with organizations to create programs focused on management, leadership, customer culture and much more.

Her team is ready to grow the new program in a similar manner. "We benchmarked against other women leadership programs and all of the literature about women in STEM," Malone says. "In addition, we created a steering committee from academic and administrative leaders on this campus, as well as a corporate advisory board. I ran a series of focus groups about women in STEM, needs and issues, and I even ran an all-male focus group to see what the male perspective was from a leadership standpoint on what organizations and individuals can do to foster women's leadership roles. From all of that, we formed content and brought in leaders from across the country to present."

They hosted their first cohort in May, and 26 women from the Long Island region participated. "They were able to work through the various issues around self-leadership, leading others, leading a team and leading organizations, as well as what the specific issues of being in STEM are, barriers or strengths, at different points in time and how they could utilize that," Malone says. "It was really fabulous, and one of the big themes that we found from the women was the commitment to not only develop their strengths as leaders, but to develop those strengths to coach, mentor and support the advocacy of other women and diverse populations in STEM."

The intimacy of having a small group also allowed the women to get to know each other better, Malone adds. "I wouldn't want it to be a huge auditorium filled with people. I want it set up in a way that we can break up into small groups, interact, network and really start to do relationship building."

One result of the cohort that Malone says she enjoyed the most was seeing women from many professional STEM backgrounds, from scientists and engineers to researchers, coming together and sharing their expertise in different work environments. "It was a very rich conversation and a very big learning experience," she continues.

The next steps for the program are to host a second cohort in the fall. Malone also will be coordinating with faculty leaders from Stony Brooks's College of Business to write a white paper and report on the themes of the first event so that they can benchmark against the needs for organizations to create a more sustainable and susceptible environment for female leaders in STEM.

In addition, in the fall, they will be convening more formal and informal coffee meet-ups, workshops and seminars for women, as well as establishing mentorship models for women in science and engineering. One of the workshops will include a pre-assessment and delivery model on implicit bias and culture. "There's a lot of great work happening across the board with a lot of organizations," Malone says. "We're just hoping our institution can be instrumental in offering even more resources."

As for how Malone foresees this initiative improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace: "It's imperative for all of us to be looking at how more and more individuals can have access and opportunity," she says. "We are part of a bigger conversation, not only within the region but within the state and beyond, in working with our community colleges, public and private institutions, workforce boards and high schools in making sure there's a shared conversation to create career opportunities and pathways. It's great to run the programs from the institution, but it's also great to be part of a network within the region that addresses different entry points for individuals. We cast a wide net as a public research institution."

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Women in STEM LeadershipFor parity. For unity. For community.